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Asha Holmes shares where and what to look for when buying art

WORDS BY GIULIA BRUGLIERA

“If you know more about the artist, then you’ll be more inclined to appreciate the artwork.”

When it comes to buying art, I can’t be the only one who has no idea where to start.

Growing up with parents whose idea of art was framed Ikea prints, the entire art world is very foreign to me. I don’t understand where to buy art, how pricing works and, for a very long time, I didn’t really understand the point of it. (This old Vice article crudely yet accurately sums up my past feelings towards art.)

But I’m now well into my adult years and with a burgeoning love of interiors and Apartamento Magazine’s Instagram, I’m now finally understanding the value of art. I’m starting to get how the right piece can evoke an emotion, change the energy in a room and make you really feel something.

And so, naturally, I now have questions. What makes art good? How much should I be spending on art? What if my tastes change? Who are some cool Australian artists? And, most importantly, where can I find affordable art?

I took all my ramblings to the very talented (and very understanding) Sydney-based artist Asha Holmes.

While we’ve never met, Asha feels like something of a kindred spirit. Her career began in the fashion industry, where she started her own label called Milieu at the tender age of 18. Asha later moved into sales and creative roles, first at Assembly Label then at Maurie & Eve, while simultaneously painting original artworks after hours as a way to channel her creativity. (Asha is a fourth-generation artist; her great grandmother painted the camo swatches on WWII trucks.)

Eventually, her boss and mentor at Maurie & Eve saw her works. Asha tells me her boss gave her permission and the flexibility to pursue and prioritise her art while working for the brand, setting into motion a plan by which Asha spent less time in office and more time in the studio. She’s found huge success since. Asha’s most recent collection, created in isolation and titled This Must be the Place, sold out in two days.

I adore Asha’s work and having long admired her Instagram, so asked if she might be happy to consult on a beginner’s guide to buying art. Of course, much of this involved Asha’s own storytelling, which turned out to be much more insightful and illuminating than I could have hoped.

So here’s the Asha Holmes spin on how to start buying art.

Look to Instagram and galleries to find artists you like

“I think that a lot of people who are likeminded are finding each other on digital platforms. For me personally, it’s definitely been a really good way to build an audience. But you also have a particular audience who will still to go to art galleries to research artists beyond just looking at the art on screen.

“I think that a really nice balance would be conducting digital research and also actually going into galleries and supporting the art world. Looking at the artworks in person, seeing the finer details and texture, and supporting galleries is really important.

“Galleries that I’m really enjoying both physically and online are Studio Gallery Sydney, Saint Cloche, Jerico Contemporary and Sydney Road Gallery.”

Research different artists and their values before settling on a piece

“An artwork can become really interesting once you start to research what the artist is about, and how they practice their art. I just found some artists in Australia who are using really organic materials, just straight from the earth, to create their works. Looking at their pieces through a gallery window, I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t read about them.

“When an artist is being authentic it translates through the piece. I think if you know more about the artist, then you’ll be more inclined to appreciate the artwork.”

Seek out diverse pieces and consider building a collection

“I have started to collect smaller, original artworks from artists that I love who are either established or emerging. The reason why I purchase art from them is not only to support them, but it’s also because I love what they’re about, their personality, and what they’re contributing to the art world.

“The kind of art I have been collecting, if you saw it on my wall, it’s such a vast mix of different types of artists. There’s not one same direction, they’re all different in their own way and they’re all from different parts of the world.

“I think the reason why is because each artwork has a different type of energy, and I like to have an array of works. Some of them have a lot to do with music, some of them have a more simplistic approach, and I guess they all speak to different parts of who I am.”

Consider the colours used and how they make you feel

“I’ve studied the psychology of colour. It basically explains how colours can affect our nervous system in certain ways; some can have a really positive effect and other colours can have a really negative effect.

“What I’m articulating in my art is colour’s sensory effect. I’m trying to use certain colour details that can put people in a nostalgic place, or take them back to somewhere that’s calming and quite positive. I hope that my work really does radiate some sort of a natural, almost calming aura.

“I’ve got quite a curious nature, and I always wondered why I was so drawn in by that certain kind of pink colour. I don’t necessarily like wearing pink, I’m not really a pink kind of person, but in my pieces, 90 per cent of the time I would use pink in them. And I was always really curious as to why my eye was drawn to that tone.

“When I started to research into it, I learnt that pink is one of the most calming colours on our nervous system. There have been some really cool studies, even in jail cells, where they have painted the whole jail blush pink, and it’s calmed the inmates down by 50 per cent.

“I’ve really loved finding out why we love certain colours, and everyone’s different. Some people can’t stand pink and I understand that, you’re not going to please everyone with your art; not everyone is going to like it. But for me to understand why I’m using certain colour combinations is really important, and now I feel like I’ve got a bit more knowledge on that.”

If you can afford it, prioritise an original work

“We need to support other artists to keep the art world strong; it’s such a necessary part of our lives. And supporting every art form too, not just paintings but art across the board.”

ashleighholmes.com.au

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